Eggs in Purgatory

“….or what to eat when you feel like hell.”

1 tbs. olive oil
1 small garlic clove, grated or minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 x 14oz. can chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1-2 eggs
2-3 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
bread, to serve (mandatory)
extra grated Parmesan cheese, to serve (optional)
chili oil, to serve (optional)

Pour the olive oil in a small skillet and add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Put over a medium heat and stir for 1 minutes. Tip in the tomatoes and salt and bring to a bubble. It’s got to be good and hot to pouch the egg.

Crack in the egg, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Partially cover with a lid and let it bubble for 5-6 minutes, by which time the white should be set and the yolk still runny.

Serve with toasted bread for dunking and drizzled with more grated Parmesan cheese and chili oil, if using.

Serves 1

 

Tequila and Lime Chicken

This lovely little chicken dish is packed with citrus flavor and can be roasted in the oven or cooked out on the grill. As with anything marinated, the longer the marinating time, the better!

1 medium chicken, cut into 8 pieces
5 tbs. tequila blanco
zest and juice of 2 limes
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp. sea salt
2 tbs. regular olive oil
extra lime wedges and cilantro, to serve

Put the chicken pieces in a resealable bag or large bowl. Mix together the tequila, lime zest and juice, red pepper flakes, salt and oil. Add to the bag or bowl and squelch everything together. Chill for at least 6 hours or up to 2 days. (If you are really short on time, marinate at room temperature for 40 minutes.)

When you are ready to cook, take the chicken out of the fridge and leave for 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange the chicken in a single layer in a roasting tin. Pour over half the marinade and cook for 25 minutes. Pour over the remaining marinade and cook a further 25 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Add a little boiling water to the roasting tin to deglaze the pan. Pour this over the chicken and serve with extra lime wedges and cilantro.

Alternatively, cook the chicken for 20 minutes on a medium-hot grill. Basting with the marinade and turning often.

Serves 4, generously

Baby Eggplant with Oregano and Red Onion

This is a lovely side dish for any grilled or roasted entree.

1 1/4 lb. baby eggplant
3 tbs. regular olive oil
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 small red onion, cut in thin half moons
3 tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
1 1/2 tbs. cold water
few fresh oregano sprigs

Heat the oven to 425°F. Slice the eggplants lengthwise, keeping the stalks on. Pour the 3 tbs. olive oil in a very shallow roasting tin. Sprinkle in the dried oregano, add the eggplant, cut side down and swirl them gently around. Turn them cut side cup and roast in the oven for 15 minutes, by which time they should be tender and turning golden.

As soon as the eggplant is in the oven, put the onions in a small bowl and cover with the vinegar and salt.

Remove the eggplant to a platter. Whisk the onions with the 4 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, the garlic and water. Spoon them over the warm eggplants, then leave for about half an hour to cool to room temperature. Scatter with fresh oregano leaves to serve.

Serves 6 as a side dish

Yogurt Carton Cake

There is something completely charming about this cake. It begins by emptying a yogurt pot, then measuring the remaining ingredients using the pot. It is called “Chambella” in Italian and typically eaten for breakfast.

1 x 6oz. plain whole-milk yogurt carton (2/3 cup)
3 eggs, separated
1 carton vegetable oil (2/3 cup)
2 cartons caster sugar (1 1/3 cups)
2 capfuls vanilla extract
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 cartons plain flour (1 2/3 cups)
1 carton corn starch (2/3 cup)
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Heat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9″ ring mold or savarin tin.

Scrape the yogurt out of it’s carton into a large bowl.  Beat in the egg yolks, then slowly beat in the oil. Add the vanilla and lemon zest. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour and corn starch. Beat the egg whites into stiff peaks and fold in gently.

Fill the prepared tin with the smooth, soft batter (it will come to the top). Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the edges come away and a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake sit in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioner’s sugar to serve.

Parmesan Shortbreads

Absolutely divine with a glass of bubbly. These freeze really well, so keep a stash in the freezer for impromptu guests!

1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
7 tbs. soft butter
1 egg yolk

Mix all the ingredients together – using a bowl and spoon, mixer or food processor, as wished – until a golden dough begins to form a clump. Turn it out onto a surface and knead for about 30 seconds until smooth. Divide in two and make each into a cylinder about 1 1/4″ in diameter. Make sure the ends are flat, so that the cylinder resembles a coin roll. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill for at least 45 minutes or up to 3 days or freeze.

Heat the oven to 350°F and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the dough into thick 1/2″ rounds and bake for 15-20 minutes. They should be just beginning to turn a pale gold at the edges. Leave to cool before serving.

Makes 35-40

Lamb Cutlets with Mint, Chili and Golden Potatoes

This is a proper meat and potato supper that will delight everyone. Both dried mint and fresh mint are used for just the right amount of warming spice.

1 lb. baby white potatoes, halved but not peeled
3 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. dried mint
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
1/4 tsp. celery salt
8 lamb chops, frenched
4 cups arugula
1 tbs. chopped fresh mint
1 tbs. chopped fresh parsley

Put the baby potatoes on to steam until just tender.

In a large, shallow dish, into which the chops will all fit in an even layer, add the oil with the dried mint, chili flakes and celery salt. Use one of the chops to smooch in all together, then add all of the chops, turning in the oil. Leave to marinate for 10 minuets.

Heat a large, heavy skillet or the grill to medium heat. Cook the chops for 3-5 minutes per side, depending on how well you like them done. Remove and let them rest. Tip the potatoes into the skillet and cook until golden, 3-5 minutes. If grilling the chops, tip the oil from the marinade into a skillet and add the potatoes. Proceed as above.

Scatter the arugula onto a platter and top with the chops, potatoes, fresh mint and fresh parsley. Season to your liking.

Serves 3-4

Pasta Risotto with Peas and Pancetta

Heavenly to make and to eat!

2 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
6 oz. cubed pancetta
1 1/4 cups frozen peas
8 oz. orso pasta
2 1/2 cups boiling water
salt, to taste
1 tbs. soft butter
2 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
grated black pepper, to taste

Warm the oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp and bronze, then stir in the peas for a minute or two until the frozen look leaves them.

Add the pasta and stir for a bit, then add the boiling water and season with salt. Turn  down to a simmer and let it bubble for 10 minutes, until the pasta is tender and the water absorbed.

To serve, toss with the soft butter, Parmesan and sprinkle with black pepper.

Serves 2

Fettuccini with Mushrooms, Marsala and Mascarpone

This pasta is quite elegant and sophisticated. The creamy marsala-laced sauce is just right with the husky and earthy porcini mushrooms.

1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup marsala
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup mascarpone
freshly grated nutmeg
ground pepper
2 tbs. chopped fresh parsley, plus more to serve
8 oz. egg fettuccini or taliatelle
1 tbs. unsalted butter
small clove of garlic, grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Measure the porcini mushrooms into a small saucepan and add the marsala and water. Bring to a boil, then take it off the heat and let stand at least 10 minutes.

Put the mascarpone into a bowl and add a good grating of fresh nutmeg and pepper. Strain the marsala and water from the saucepan into the bowl and mix with a fork. Squeeze the porcini mushrooms over the bowl, then chop and add as well.

Boil water for the pasta and salt when it boils. Cook the pasta per the package directions. Keep a little pasta water aside, then drain the pasta and tip back into the pot. Stir in the mascarpone mixture and add a little of the pasta water if you need to loosen the sauce.

Check the seasoning and serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 2

 

Meringue Gelato Cake with Chocolate Sauce

There couldn’t be an easier or more delish pudding than this!

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 oz. bittersweet chocolate (at least 62% cocoa solids), finely chopped
1 tbs. coffee liqueur
4 oz. store-bought meringue cookies
8 oz. raspberries, to serve

For the chocolate sauce:

1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup bittersweet chocolate (at least 62% cocoa solids), finely chopped
2 tbs. coffee liqueur

Line a loaf tin with plastic wrap, making sure you have enough overhang to come over the top later.

Whip the cream until thick but still soft, then fold in the chopped chocolate and coffee liqueur. Crumble in the meringue cookies and gently fold. Pack into the loaf tin, pressing it down with a spatula as you go. Bring the plastic wrap over and seal the top. Freeze until solid, about 8 hours or overnight.

To make the chocolate sauce, heat the cream and chocolate over a gentle heat until almost melted. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream. Set aside to cool a bit.

To serve, unwrap the layers of plastic wrap and use them to lift out the ice-cream brick. Turn over onto a serving tray and cut into slices. Zigzag with chocolate sauce and sprinkle with raspberries.

Serves 6-8